Turkish forces set up positions in Syria's Idlib

Turkish forces set up positions in Syria's Idlib

Turkish news media reported that the vehicles carrying the troops crossed into Idlib province late on Thursday.

About 50 vehicles moved into Idlib province towards the western end of Turkey's border with Syria in an advance agreed with Russian Federation and Iran as part of plans to try to pacify the region.

Turkey sent a convoy of about 30 military vehicles into rebel-held northwest Syria through the Bab al-Hawa crossing in Idlib, rebels and a witness said.

"The allied Turkish armed forces have entered Syrian territory and begun setting up observation posts", Mustafa Sejari, an official in the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebel group, was quoted as saying by Reuters. Reconnaissance units have been operating in the area since last Sunday.

The army said its forces in Syria were conducting operations in line with rules of engagement agreed with Russian Federation and Iran.

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It was heading to Sheikh Barakat, a hilltop that overlooks large areas of rebel-held northwestern Syria, but also the Afrin area held by the Kurdish YPG militia.

Turkey has supported rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad throughout the war. According to agreed, deployment of troops was determined by establishing control and observation points in security zones that constitute borders of Turkey's conflict zone in Idlib.

Turkish army armored vehicles drive at the Syria-Turkey border on on October 8, 2017.

Turkey regards the YPG as an extension of the PKK, a Kurdish group inside Turkey that has been waging armed insurgency against Ankara for three decades. Russia, Syria and Turkey have been discussing a deal for the Turkish involvement.

The last time Turkish forces were engaged in Syria was in August, when Turkey launched its eight-month long Euphrates Shield operation against extremists and Kurdish militia in northern Syria.

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